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With Both Barrels: 1937

With Both Barrels: 1937

September 1937. "Herman Gerling, farmer. Barrels on truck are for hauling spring water. Near Wheelock, North Dakota." Medium format negative by Russell Lee for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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The body

That TT truck may have never had a body. The basic body-less truck was available from Ford and you could build whatever you wanted. The seat looks like something salvaged from an old car.

A truck named Ingenuity.

I wonder what kind of body this truck had on it originally? It must not have been suitable for farm work whatever it was.

Each time I look at this picture I see something else creatively engineered. From the wood firewall, the removable windshield for more comfortable summer driving, the battery box made of wood with the battery cable drooping over the side and next to it a wooden tool box. Looking at the left rear tire there must not be much oil left in the axle.

The water wagon

My dad told me about my west Texas great-grandfather, who owned two wagons. One was a general-purpose wagon, used the way one now uses a pickup truck. The other was a dedicated water wagon. It had more than two barrels. Once a week, he'd hitch up the team and drive to the stock tank. He had a pier that reached out to the middle of the tank, so he could draw water with the least amount of mud and cow feces. He would carry it, one bucket at a time, and dump it into the barrels in the wagon. Once back at the house, he'd unhitch the team, and the wagon would stay put for the rest of the week.

My grandmother told me an abbreviated version of the same story, before she descended into dementia. She mentioned knowing, later in life, that the water was likely unsanitary, but, "The cows drank it." She said they also had barrels to catch rainwater running off the roof, but you couldn't depend on that.

Model T Fords didn't figure into either version of the story. But my grandmother, who was born in 1911, did tell me she learned to drive in a Model T.

In any case, this is a TT, the truck with a longer wheelbase. And that's a Montgomery Ward "hot shot" 6-volt battery, which according to lore, was used on the Model T when the bearings wore to the point where the magneto would no longer reliably supply the ignition.

And I've found another Shorpy cat-dude.

Disgruntled pets

Both of Mr. Gerling's pets seem somewhat grumpy today. The dog seems jealous of the cat perhaps and the cat looks to have done a complete clawing of Herman's hand as well as perhaps shredding the driver's seat. Can't we all just get along?

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